Roen Halley Kahalewai McDonald Hufford is a recipient of a 2023 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
This honor is in recognition of Roen's unceasing efforts to reclaim and expand the Hawaiian art of ka hana kapa.
The National Heritage Fellowship is the highest distinction that the United States bestows upon a tradition bearer. This year Roen is among nine exemplary artists from across the United States being recognized for their excellence and the importance of the traditions they represent. The official ceremonies will be held in Washington D.C. in late September.
Roen's receipt of this national Fellowship is truly an affirmation of ka hana kapa as a living, breathing part of Hawai'i's cultural heritage. It is also a confirmation of the strength of legacy within families. Roen's mother Marie Leilehua McDonald received a National Heritage Fellowship in 1990 for her efforts to preserve and advance the art of Hawaiian leimaking. In the 1970s, Marie began a collaboration with a group of dedicated artisans to research kapa techniques, natural dyes and tools in order to bring kapa back to life and establish its community relevance. It is this legacy of shared effort that Marie handed onto Roen, and Roen continues to advance.
Click here for a link to the Feb 28, 2023 NEA press release where you can learn more about the National Heritage Fellowship program, this year's recipients, and those from past years.
Click here for a listing of the remarkable National Heritage Fellows from Hawai'i. With nineteen recipients, Hawai'i is beautifully represented and Roen is in very esteemed and cherished company.